Form/Genre Policy (655)

Beginning in 2008, LC began to establish form/genre (155) headings in the national Subject Authority File (SAF). The initial category of heading was for moving image resources (film and video), later followed by headings for radio programs. LC published guidelines for assigning headings in these categories in the LC Subject Headings Manual, instruction sheets H 1913 (Moving Image) and H 1969.5 (Radio). The first genre/form terms for cartography began to appear on the weekly lists in May 2010, and Law genre/form terms are expected to be ready some time in the fall. LC intends to establish headings and develop guidelines in the future for literature, music, and religion in conjunction with any interested specialist cataloging communities [for the timeline, use the link to the LC page in RELATED DOCUMENTS]. Because the development period is expected to be lengthy, LC published a FAQ providing optional guidelines for libraries that wish to assign form/genre headings in categories prior to their official development. Catalogers following the option must base headings tagged as 655 on headings currently established as 150; only 150 tagged headings with scope notes implying form/genre usage may be tagged as 655. A close reading of the FAQ guidelines (Q28 ) indicates that following the option will require considerable interpretation to implement. Given the limits on staff time, the CCC default policy is that YUL catalogers should not apply the option; detailed policy (including exceptions) is provided below.

In June 2010, LC announced its decision to separate genre/form headings from subject headings. Genre/form headings up till that time had been tagged 655 _0. As a separate thesaurus, from June 2010, genre/form headings should be tagged

655 _7 ‡a <heading>. ‡2 lcgft

Note that a period follows the heading and no period is used after the $2 subfield. The June policy change supersedes the genre/form FAQ dated 8/10, even though the latter has the later date.Since the FAQ has not yet been revised, it is unclear whether catalogers who follow the option to use appropriate 650s as 655s are expected to use the new tagging scheme or should siimply cease following the option.

A. Currently established form/genre headings (in the national SAF file). Examples: form/genre headings for video & radio programs

  1. No retrospective maintenance. There will be no systematic attempt to update previously cataloged records, although the cataloger has the option to re-tag headings if she needs to update a bibliographic record for other reasons and the form/genre heading has been established in SAF.
  2. Copy cataloging. Accept 655s on member/LC copy. Do not edit to conform to current LC policy,  e.g., do not change headings tagged 650 to 655, or from 655 _0 to 655_7.
  3. Original cataloging. Follow LC policy in SCM H 1913, H 2230. Catalogers can make SACO proposals for F/G headings covered by these instruction sheets if necessary. Current tagging guidelines introduced June 2010 should be applied.

B. Form/genre headings not currently established and not addressed by the LC Subject Cataloging Manual.

The LC FAQ provides the option for re-tagging certain categories of headings currently tagged 650 as 655. However, the application is convoluted and the YUL decision is not to apply the FAQ option for headings in this category.

  1. Copy cataloging. If a member library (or LC) assigns a 655 under the FAQ guidelines, it should be accepted. Catalogers should not attempt to evaluate the 655 for conformity to the practice described in the LC FAQ. Conversely, no attempt should be made to update 650s to 655 if they fall within the scope of the LC FAQ.
  2. Original cataloging. In general, do not apply the LC FAQ guidelines to 650s that function as 655s. Some exceptions can be made for special collections, but they should be submitted to the SACO committee for review. However, catalogers always have the option of tagging a 650 as 655 if the second indicator is 7 and the $2 subfield is local or another thesaurus code such as aat or rbgenr; these should not be submitted to the Committee. If a 650 _0 is re-tagged as 655 but does not conform to the LC FAQ definition and guidelines, it should be tagged as local (7 … $2 local, or, as appropriate, aat or rbgenr, etc.). [Note: aat=Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus; rbgenr= Genre terms : a thesaurus for use in rare book and special collections cataloging.]


Genre/Form Headings at the Library of Congress: General Information
(there is a link to the LC Form/Genre June tagging/thesaurus announcement on this page)

SACO Committee PPT on Form/Genre Issues 
(This is a YUL SharePoint site requiring a login and password)

Audiobooks Form Heading